Another week, another butt-load of news in the watch industry. I get the almighty power of deciding what was cool enough to make it into my column. This week, it was a celebratory Minase, a new Urwerk, and a deep blue Credor that really caught my eye…plus I couldn’t ignore the GPHG Awards 2020. Read on!

Minase’s celebratory sweet 15!

Who doesn’t love a good birthday celebration? There’s usually cake, sweets and other treats involved. When Minase got in touch to tell us a little more about their birthday celebrations, they indeed treated us to a rather stunning new release. For its 15th birthday, the brand has produced a limited edition of its signature 5 Windows model, limited to just 15 pieces, each engraved with its unique serial number. The stainless steel case is coated in black PVD and features a gorgeous silver dial with circular brushing. The lower, right-hand dial quadrant is cut away to reveal an attractive, alternating black and white date wheel. The watch is then fitted on a back, calf leather strap.

It’s visually striking…

The watch is powered by the KT7001/1 movement, a customized and finished version of an ETA 2824-2 ebauche. To further enhance the watch’s movement and visual impact of the case back, there is a brand-new custom gold IP-plated rotor. Each of the plates is engraved with the unique serial number and bears the limited edition markings. It’s visually striking and a big update on the standard case back visuals we’ve seen previously from Minase! I heartily approve.

Minase 5 Windows 15 Years Limited Edition

This special, celebratory watch is finally wrapped up in a special, celebratory box. It is presented in the Minase wooden box that is usually used exclusively for the Masterpieces series. These boxes are handmade in Japan and decorated with beautiful marquetry techniques. I’m not usually a fan of the boring boxes brands will give you, but this box is one that  I wouldn’t shove in a cupboard. It would be used and proudly on display!

Be quick or miss out

You can find out more about the Minase 5 Windows 15 Years Limited Edition on Minase’s website here. Pricing was CHF 3.950, but the watches have now all been snapped up by fast-fingered buyers. I have no doubt they’ll be thrilled with their purchases!

Urwerk Ur-100V Iron

Urwerk Ur-100V Iron

Urwerk is a brand that divides opinion. Indeed for the longest time, I was one of those who didn’t get what they were doing. The question I always had was, “why?”. I didn’t understand why the brand used what is, at first glance, an overly complicated method of displaying the time.

…I am Dave from down the pub.

Our managing editor, Rob, previously got to go hands-on with the UR-100 in flashy yellow gold. In that article, he mentioned chatting to a bloke named Dave from down the pub and how this chap didn’t understand the brand. Well, spoiler alert: I am Dave from down the pub.

Urwerk Ur-100V Iron

It’s true. I didn’t. But when Urwerk first released the UR-100, it shattered the glass ceiling that had prevented me from ‘getting’ the brand, and it’s watches. There was something about the oddly slab-like case, the gorgeous bubble crystal, and the exceptionally symmetrical arrangement; it all spoke to me. Since then, I have gone on to fall in love with the yellow UR-105TA, the UR-202, the UR-210, and especially the UR-220 in carbon fiber.

Getting down to business!

Those other models are not what I am here to talk about today. Today I am excitedly looking at the latest iteration of the UR-100 from Urwerk, the UR-100V Iron. It may just be my favorite yet. Previously I flitted between the all-black DLC version and the gunmetal version (I much preferred their textile strap over the leather one on the other models), but today’s new launch might be “the one” as far as I’m concerned! Surely that’s a reason to celebrate?!

…adds blue across its palette.

Featuring the same stainless steel and titanium construction as the previous models, the UR-100V moves away from its previously black, white, and grey color scheme and adds blue across its palette. It keeps the same Spacetime scales around the outer edge, but they’re nothing more than novelties. I’m not sure anyone has ever legitimately used them. Completing this beautiful timepiece is a rather fetching, blue Alcantara strap with a titanium pin buckle.

The UR-100V Iron is available now, priced at CHF 48.000. You can read more on Urwerk’s website here.

Credor Eichi II

Credor Eichi II “Ruri” Blue

Seiko’s Micro Artist Studio is a cult-like entity known to only the most hardcore watch enthusiasts. The average watch fan may be excused for not being too familiar. For those of you still wondering, it’s where Seiko’s most exciting finishing and work is practiced by a very small number of artisans. These craftsmen are among the best in the world at what they do. The most well-known range to hail from the Micro Artist Studio is the Credor Eichi watches. They feature Seiko’s typically simple designs, allowing for the artisanal craftsmanship to shine through and be celebrated without unnecessary distractions. Business in the front, and party round the back. And what a party it is!

….it just rolls off of the tongue so easily.

Credor first introduced the world to the Eichi family back in 2008, and then to the Eichi II in 2014. Both models have typically been three-handers with a power reserve indicator. On the Eichi, this PR is on the dial side, but on the Eichi II, it joins the party round the back. This week, we are presented with the newest Eichi II featuring a gorgeous, deep-blue “Ruri” dial. Officially named the GBLT997, this watch sticks to Seikos habit of catchily naming their watches…it just rolls off of the tongue so easily.

Credor Eichi II

Perfect porcelain

The 39mm platinum case offers a milky silver contrast to the wonderfully rich blue dial. According to the brand, this particular shade of blue took over two years to develop. The “Ruri” dial is made of porcelain. This means all of the dial elements are painstakingly hand-painted, and they are flawless. Like enamel, porcelain has to be hand-applied and then fired multiple times to achieve the desired color and depth.

One slip and hours of work are lost…

If you think it’s fun from the front, wait until you see the back! It is also quite a sight… Although the hand-wound, 7R14 Spring-Drive movement is not a brand-spanking-new one from Credor, it is still an absolute marvel to look at. It doesn’t get any less beautiful over time.

Additionally, all of the decoration is done by hand. The anglage edges are not flat but rounded. This takes exceptional care to achieve a uniform finish along the length of the edge. One slip and hours of work are lost, and the part must be restarted from scratch. Screws and hand-blued the proper way, jewel sinks are all mirror finished. It’s just absolutely stunning, and a perfect demonstration of Japanese dedicated to perfection.

Credor Eichi II

A macro perspective

Bert, our in-house photographer, certainly takes fantastic photographs of all of the watches that come through our doors here at Fratello HQ. I’m sure you’ll agree. After speaking with him about watch photography, one of the things he finds most frustrating is super close-up macro photography. While watches may look flawless on the wrist, getting up close and personal with a macro lens quickly pulls back the curtain and exposes the flaws: uneven edges, tiny, almost-invisible scratches, and microscopic dust particles. With the finishing and execution on the Eichi movements done to the highest of Japanese standards, I would so love for Bert to get his paws on one. I think even his highly-trained eye would likely struggle to find an imperfection.

The Credor Eichi II “Ruri” blue GBLT997 is available from January 2021 and priced at €59.000. You can read more here.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2020

This past week, on Thursday evening, we had the 2020 GPHG awards. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. The point of the GPHG is to highlight and celebrate remarkable horological creations. Furthermore, the GPHG promotes the art of watchmaking to the world. Every year, in November, the GPHG holds an awards ceremony attended by representatives of the international watchmaking community. Brands will submit their creations from the past year into around twenty different categories, including the “Aiguille d’Or” (best in show). This is the one that everyone naturally wants to win, so naturally, this is the one I will talk about today! You can read the full results here.

…this is a THIN watch.

This year’s best in show winner was Piaget, who celebrated the win with its super-skinny Altiplano Ultimate Concept. The fact it’s of the Altiplano family tells anyone familiar with the brand that this is a THIN watch. Piaget’s dedicated in-house Research and Innovation division developed the Altiplano Ultimate Concept. They worked solely on the prototype for over four years!

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Getting skinny with it!

This Piaget measures a rather svelte 2mm thick. Amazingly, that includes the case and sapphire crystal. How is that possible? This is entirely thanks to iconic 9P caliber Piaget. As hard as it may be to believe, this caliber was first unveiled in 1957. It debuted at a rather famous fair known as Baselworld. You might have heard of it?

This thinness is made possible by including the case as part of the movement, integrating winding crown, an ultra-thin crystal, and, more importantly, new constructions for the barrel and the energy regulation. This is certainly impressive. The result is a rather attractive watch! The 2mm thickness does raise questions about how well it may cope with everyday use, but I guess it’s probably not an everyday watch.

You can read more on Piaget’s website here. Note the price is ‘available upon request’. As the adage says: “if you have to ask…”.

Thoughts? Let me know!

Thanks again for tuning in to This Week In Watches. I hope there’s been something interesting here for you. If so, please let me know in the comments! I want to hear from you!